WASHINGTON — Under blistering criticism, Toyota President Akio Toyoda repeatedly apologized to Congress and millions of anxious American car-owners Wednesday for deadly defects in popular models produced by his Japanese company. But angry lawmakers forcefully declared it was hardly enough.

”Where is the remorse?” scolded Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio. And Republican John Mica of Florida held aloft what he called an ”absolutely appalling” Toyota report bragging of defusing a safety investigation.

Of Toyoda’s apology, Kaptur said, ”I do not think it reflects significant remorse for those who have died.” U.S. safety officials have received reports linking 34 deaths to safety defects in Toyota cars and trucks in the past decade.

”I extend my sincerest condolences to them from the bottom of my heart,” responded Toyoda, grandson of the founder of the world’s largest auto company.

But what’s most important to U.S. drivers — and what lawmakers pressed Toyoda and a top aide to provide — was a better explanation for slow actions to deal with defects and believable assurances the problems that led to unintended accelerations will be fixed.

Toyoda said those changes are being made nearly around the clock, but he repeated the company’s insistence that there is no link to electronic systems.

Many drivers filing complaints with Toyota and the government say their acceleration problems had nothing to do with floor mat interference or sticky gas pedals — the culprits the company has pointed to. Outside experts have suggested electronic problems.

Toyota has recalled 8.5 million vehicles, more than 6 million of them in the United States, mostly to fix problems with floor mats trapping gas pedals or with pedals getting stuck. Toyoda said great strides were being taken by his company to put ”safety first” and it was working hard to refit the millions of cars and trucks that have been recalled.

The company also said Wednesday it will offer free at-home pickup of vehicles covered by the national safety recall, pay for customers’ out-of-pocket transportation costs and provide drivers free rental cars during repairs.

Toyoda also said that new systems to allow brakes to override gas pedals were going into new models.